I hang out on Tumblr a little too much, because Tumblr is way too good at thinking up uniquely creative fandom endeavors that eat up all my time. So it was that I stumbled upon the above picture a few months back. Did someone actually go to where the incredibly depressing “Doomsday” was filmed and take that picture? Curious, I clicked on the blog and quickly discovered many more such pictures: Les Misérables in London, Torchwood in Cardiff, even Star Trek Into Darkness in Los Angeles—all centered around an iPad photo of the original scene. And I was hooked.
Fangirl Quest is just what the name implies—Tiia Öhman and Satu Walden, two Finnish fangirls, are on a quest to visit filming locations all over the world. Once they’ve arrived at the exact location, they take photos with a method they call sceneframing: Satu holds an iPad with the relevant screencap while Tiia takes the photo. Who needs selfies? Sceneframing is the new cool.
The two of them have just finished a truly epic roadtrip through the United States and Canada, and were kind enough to talk to me via email about their blog and their adventures. Check below the cut for my interview with the fantastic girls of Fangirl Quest!
Luce: The two of you work together so well—how did you meet (and start Fangirl Quest)?
Fangirl Quest: Nine years ago, both of us fell in love with the music of a Finnish band called Poets of the Fall. Us two and a couple of other girls started going to their gigs, and pretty soon we realised carpooling would be a good idea. It all started from there. We did longer and longer trips following them around, and after travelling to about 200 gigs it’s kind of impossible not to become best friends. Last summer we did a roadtrip in the UK based solely on filming locations of our favourite shows and movies. We just thought it would be fun… and it is!
Luce: Sceneframing’s possibly one of the coolest concepts I’ve ever come across—how did you come up with the idea?
FQ: We’d seen some people do this with photographs and wanted to give it a go. But of course, Tiia forgot the prints home so at the last minute upon arrival to our first stop at Barafundle Bay, Wales, we thought we’d give the iPad a go. We didn’t think it would work. It’s definitely harder than with paper prints because of the reflections and all, but it sort of became our thing so we couldn’t do it the old-fashioned way after posting the original photos.
The first set of 10 photos just took off online. They got 60,000 notes on Tumblr and several entertainment sites featured them. Two of our best friends Timo Vuorensola and Essi Suomela (both filmmakers) convinced us we should continue the project, and in November last year we launched the Fangirl Quest blog.
Luce: For the photography fans, what sort of equipment do you use?
FQ: Tiia is a professional photographer and would love to use her Canon 5D whenever she can, but for budget reasons she’s had to do it with less fancy equipment lately (like a 450D). A few of our shots have been taken with a pocket camera, nothing fancy.
Luce: How do you pick the places you visit? Are they all from personal favorite shows, or does it come down to the show’s popularity?
FQ: If we love it, we’ll do it. If something has a huge following and people specifically request it, we consider it. But then there are cases where the locations are far, far away (i.e. The Hobbit, Game of Thrones or Tiia’s absolute favourite movie The Fall) or it’s all been filmed in a studio (like Friends).
On a related note, a funny thing happened this January. We’ve never been into zombie stories, but when people heard we were planning a sceneframing trip to the US, they said we should do The Walking Dead. We were like “meh, zombies” but decided to watch a couple of episodes so that we’d know what sort of stuff we’re about to frame… A few weeks later we’d seen it all twice and covered our apartment’s walls with the show’s posters.
So, we drove up to Atlanta, spent a few days framing every location we managed to get into and spent three days watching their filming outside of Terminus. We met some lovely fellow fans, some very nice crew members as well as Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Robert Kirkman and a few others. We honestly almost cried when we had to leave Atlanta. We feel like we owe at least a kidney to each of these people who suggested we should watch it. Like, wow.
Luce: What’s been your favorite place to go to so far?
FQ: We used to be able to pick one. It was Dunraven Bay in Wales, which is this amazing beach hidden behind a beautiful small village called Southerndown. That was used in Doctor Who and Merlin. But now there’s Vancouver, the place to go for all the Supernatural fans. We especially adored Riverview Hospital, an abandoned mental hospital. It’s been used in many, many productions aside from Supernatural so we went back three times before we got everything we wanted. Atlanta, because wow, visiting the Walking Dead locations really feels like you’re being thrown into the walker universe. Many of the locations just have the exact same feel in real life as they do in the show. We were just expecting Daryl or Rick to come running around the corner shooting walkers as they go.
Luce: Which place has been the hardest to get to?
FQ: We bumped into surprisingly many locked doors and gates in Atlanta. But I guess it makes sense – they need run down, abandoned buildings and locations for the world’s end feeling and often those places are not safe for public. Woodbury is an actual village though, in real life it’s called Senoia and it’s a lovely, lovely place to visit. There’s a whole shop full of TWD stuff, too.
Luce: Since your Indiegogo campaign [for the trip through the U.S. and Canada] was so successful, do you think you’ll do another one? Where would you like to go, if so?
FQ: Not right away, no. It’s a lot of work, running a campaign like this. We worked full day (sometimes night) weeks before the campaign, during it, and after this roadtrip we still have at least a month’s worth of stuff to work on. On the other hand, we know a lot about crowdfunding now so it’s possible we’ll come up with new ideas at some point. Charity, maybe? Who knows.
As mentioned before, getting to visit the locations of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in New Zealand, and Game Of Thrones spots in Iceland, Croatia and Northern Ireland would be a dream come true! Maybe one day…
Luce: Are there any other fun roadtrip stories you’d like to share with us?
FQ: Where do we begin? There’s that time when we accidentally bumped into the filming location signs of Supernatural in the middle of nowhere and met Misha Collins. Or that time when we got stuck deep in fine sand at Lake Powell, Utah and spend an hour trying to dig our car out of it with our bare hands before finally giving up and calling a tow truck. Or that time when our new favourite person Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow) bought us breakfast on a sunny morning in Wilmington, NC for no particular reason. When you travel, you experience stuff. We worked hard to get to experience all this, but it still feels like a blessing. We feel extremely fortunate and humbled by it all.